A mid-season return to the BTCC and the second edition of a fan favourite!
If you can believe it, we’re almost at the end of July - 2017 has not been hanging around and neither has Test Track. We mentioned last time, in our June edition, that we had reached 30 total instalments of the blog (this one makes 32 now!), which has included 12 this year already and we’ve got a fair few more to go. We’ve covered so many different topics this year, and this month sees the return of one of our favourites: the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).
We’ve not checked in with the BTCC since March, although Jake Hill and Michael Epps did pay our stand at Brands Hatch a visit (which we mentioned in April’s edition). Since then we’ve focused on a few other matters, namely our attendance at possibly the biggest Slot Racing event in the UK and arguably the most prestigious motorsport event in Europe!
Either way, we think it’s the perfect time to check back in with the BTCC as we’re nicely positioned halfway through the season, with all the teams back at Snetterton this weekend too. It’s been a thoroughly memorable season so far, although perhaps not always for the right reasons. However, we invited the biggest BTCC geek fan we have in the office, Simon, to give us the lowdown on the 2017 season and how things stand.
Before we pass over to Simon, there is more to tell you about though. Following our mid-season report, we have some news that may interest BTCC collectors, with the details on some special Scalextric goodies. Plus, if you like your BTCC collectibles free, then we’re offering you the chance to win a Gordon Shedden-signed 2015 Honda Civic (C3783) too.
If all that wasn’t enough, we’ve saved the best news for last. Following the success of the Ford XB Falcon (C3697), we have news of a second edition of the car. Different from the first one in several key places, this car is likely to have collectors clamouring to add it to their collection, and Test Track has all the details!
Anyway, take it away Simon…
The British Touring Car Championship 2017
This weekend sees one of our favourite racing series here at Scalextric HQ resume, the British Touring Car Championship. We thought that the end of the six-week break (which seemed much longer to us!) would be a perfect time to go over how some of our featured drivers have fared this year, and how the latter part of the season might play out.
One thing that seems to have been a feature this season is damage. Sadly, this has affected several teams on the grid, ruling some out for the rest of the season. All of us here at Scalextric are delighted to see Luke Davenport now out of hospital after the horrific shunt in qualifying for the Croft races in June, but sadly the promising rookie will now sit out the rest of the season, as will Jeff Smith. Jeff had a superb start to the season, securing his maiden pole at the first round at Brands Hatch in April, and with the help of his rapid teammate Jack Goff, Smith’s pace had really improved this year. Sadly though, his luck hadn’t. The fantastic looking Eurotech Hondas have proved to be quick though and it is a great shame that Jeff suffered so much in that incident; an accident which was down to circumstance rather than poor or bad driving. Brett Smith, current leader of the MSVR-run MINI Challenge and Jeff’s son, steps up to replace him for the rest of the season. A promising racer himself, can Brett outshine his father in the remaining rounds of the season, and will we see a father/son super team next year? It wouldn’t be a first for either the BTCC or Eurotech!
Also, caught up in the same incident was Aron Taylor-Smith. The likeable Irishman was hoping to have an improved run at Croft as the MG6 has been either unluckily caught up in others incidents or un-characteristically off the pace. Luckily Aron’s injuries are far less severe and despite a broken leg Aron has assured us at Scalextric that he will be back in the MG for the next round. Here’s hoping his luck on the track has improved by then.
Luke from Scalextric posed for this picture with Aron Taylor-Smith when we attended the Media Day in March 2017
But what about those more fortunate on the grid? Well it must be said that it’s the usual names at the front of the Championship as we reach the half-way point. The reigning champion Gordon Shedden has continued to prove why he is one of the world’s best touring car racers. While he has ‘only’ won two rounds, his consistency in the others has seen him go into this weekend with an 11-point Championship lead. And let us not forget that at this time last year he was only ninth and went on to win!
In second place is a BTCC favourite and certainly one of the toughest racers on the grid, Rob Collard. Rob grew up driving in oval racing and his ability to pass anywhere and anyone is obvious as he often fights his way through the field. Like the Honda of Shedden, Rob’s BMW is not the fastest in a straight line with other cars having more boost, but the handling and his abilities have made the work’s BMW shine this year, despite Rob only having one win so far. He is, however, just one point ahead of Colin Turkington. Colin is another driver whose luck has gone AWOL at times this year, involved in a start line shunt at Brands Hatch in round one, he has since taken three wins and looks sure to be at the front fighting Gordon and Rob as the season progresses.
We asked everyone we could find at the Media Day who would win the 2017 BTCC Championship
Behind these three Championship stalwarts are a pair of promising young guns. While Jason Plato has had a very unfortunate start to the season, with a car seemingly not to his liking, his teammate Ashley Sutton has proved to be a revelation, quick, clean and precise, his driving style has impressed many on the grid. Being just twenty points behind Gordon Shedden, he may yet sit atop the final podium at Brands too. As may Tom Ingram - he started the season with a bang, winning the first race at Brands, and has won once more at Donington. But a horror weekend at Oulton Park saw him fall down the order. But he is in no way out of contention and the man from High Wycombe is sure to bring his face-lifted Avensis back up the grid to the front.
Behind these two is Matt Neal, despite being perhaps the ‘elder statesman’ of the grid (sorry Matt!) he is (as ever) showing his speed and skills on the track - with a win at the demanding Thruxton being testament to these abilities. As well as mentoring his sons in the MINI Challenge, Matt continues to run the Honda team (Team Dynamics), and having both cars in the top six, as well as seeing newcomer Matt Simpson steadily improve is a great achievement.
A flashback to September 2016 with both Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden taking their models for a spin!
Just outside the top ten sits Josh Cook. Another promising, relative newcomer, he started the season in a Ford Focus but has now returned to the MG6 which saw him score so well last year.
The rest of the season sees the BTCC visit tracks up and down the UK, with Snetterton being followed by Knockhill and Rockingham before the series ends at Silverstone and then Brands Hatch on the magnificent GP loop. These tracks have traditionally favoured the rear wheel drive teams, so we could yet see one of the BMWs, or potentially Ash Sutton, start to pull away in the series. However, the circuits were in the same order last year, and Shedden emerged victorious, so who knows what may happen as the Championship heads towards October and the end of the season.
A BTCC Bundle and Special Edition Packaging
Many thanks for that summary Simon, and you can be sure a lot of us here at Scalextric will be following the second half of the BTCC 2017 season with interest!
Whilst we’re looking at the BTCC we have some special offers to tell you about. Both include BTCC items, as well as other Scalextric goodies. The first we’d like to bring your attention to are a number of bundles, which combine a set, extra track and additional cars together. If you’re looking to add to your layout, or get started, these are a great way to do just that.
The BTCC ‘Touring Challenge’ bundle contains the recently released BTCC Touring Car Battle set (C1372), which led to some fun banter on Twitter, Track Extension Pack 6 (C8555), with two 2015 BTCC cars: Jason Plato’s VW Passat (C3737) and Jack Goff’s MG6 (C3736). Do check it out if you might be interested as there’s a cheeky saving there too!
But that’s not all - we also have the Special Edition Packaging series to tell you all about too. Part of our incredibly popular 60th Anniversary Collection, this unique line of cars feature (as the name suggests) special edition packaging, with a 60th Anniversary holographic logo applied to the car. One BTCC car has made it into this first wave of special edition cars, with Matt Neal’s 2015 Honda Civic (C3734A) available.
You may notice that these cars are all showing as out of stock on the Scalextric website. Like many members of the 60th Anniversary Collection itself, these cars have been very popular and now they’re only available with Scalextric retailers – contact your local shop to see if they have these in stock; good luck!
If you’re a fan of these kinds of Collections, then do keep your eyes peeled here at Scalextric.com as further additions will be made to the Special Edition Packaging series in the coming months.
Mid-Season BTCC Competition
We love a competition here in Test Track, and with our focus returning to the BTCC this month, we felt this presented a perfect opportunity to have one. Some time ago we asked Gordon Shedden to sign one of his 2015 cars (C3783) for us and we’ve been saving it for the perfect occasion.
Well, the mid-season point of the 2017 BTCC season, with Gordon currently sitting at the top of the standings, seems as good a time as any!
For your chance to win a signed edition of Flash’s 2015 car all you have to do is answer a simple BTCC-related question. Your clue, should you need one, is that the answer to the question is contained in Simon’s summary of the 2017 season so far!
We’ll be announcing the winner in August’s Test Track, with the competition closing the day before. Please check the competition itself for all the details.
It's that time of year again when we're on the hunt for one of your Customer Images to feature on our Desktop Calendar Wallpaper - simply head over to our News section for details, plus how you could win £100 to spend on the website. Get snapping!
The Return of a Fan Favourite
We always like to finish on a high here in Test Track and we have just the thing for this edition. The first Ford XB Falcon (C3697) was a hugely popular car and many collectors moved heaven and earth to get their hands on one. Well, have we got some good news for you!
A second edition of the Ford XB Falcon (C3983) will be released later this year, which has several key differences. We’ve already seen online that a number of you have seen hints of this around, and the reaction has already been impressively positive. One thing that perhaps hasn’t been so clear is exactly what differs between this second version and the first - well here is a handy breakdown for you.
A decoration sample of the forthcoming Ford XB Falcon
The main differences between the two cars are that the second version (C3983) doesn’t have a front splitter, or side and rear windows. We’ve also removed the number plate and logos from the new Ford XB Falcon. What it does have though are the addition of an oil drum and jerry can on the back, plus a new livery. You’ll notice the new version has rust, dirt and dust all over with it, with dents for good measure too.
Fans of the first release are likely to be pretty excited with this news and we hope the success of the first Ford XB Falcon is replicated with this second edition.
A decoration sample of the forthcoming Ford XB Falcon
That just about wraps it up for July here at Scalextric. It is quite a lot to take in but you’ll have a few days to digest it all. Make sure you take a few minutes to enter our mid-season BTCC competition as you never know, it could be you receiving Gordon Shedden’s 2015 Honda Civic Type R!
We do have the small matter of concluding the 60th Anniversary Collection coming up so don’t stray too far from Test Track for all your Scalextric-related news. It’ll be here sooner than you think!
It wouldn’t be an edition without asking for your feedback, so don’t be a stranger and get in touch via Facebook, Twitter and/or the Forum to let us know what you think about this year’s BTCC season, the new bundles and collection or the second version of the Ford XB Falcon.
We’ll be back soon and until then,
The Test Track Team
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